Everything you really need to know about the American West happened in Gaston, Oregon. OK, that’s an exaggeration, of course. Some of it happened as much as 10 miles outside of town. The Oregon Trail, unquenchable thirst for water, federal land giveaways, the railroads, Native Americans, the timber industry, farming, grandiose goals of visionaries … it all happened in Gaston. Wild West shootouts? Got ’em. Ghost stories, too. Bootleggers and brawls, dastardly deeds and Utopian dreams. Of course we had a gold rush, too. But where you find winners you’ll find losers. The Indians, of course, but also the Chinese and Japanese. Most of the visionaries eventually saw their dreams die, sometimes in spectacular disaster. Nature has taken a beating, and so has the working man. In the Great Depression, Gaston watched as the Tillamook Burn threatened its very existence and then was the battleground for class warfare waged by a rich, out-of-control former Army General. In World War II, internment ripped apart Gaston’s rich Japanese culture and the Japanese military placed a bulls-eye on the town. After the war a hometown “spy” touched off an international incident and a former Nazi leader moved to town. Oh, and we also have monsters and psychic ghosts and salacious love triangles and UFOs. Even cannibals. Peel away the humble façade and you’ll discover the secrets of how the West was really won and lost, all right here in Gaston Oregon. It's all told by Ken Bilderback, winner of honorable mention at the 2011 New York Book Festival for Wheels on the Bus: Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll and Life in 1974.
Whether it's getting flashed by a geriatric hooker in Miami or baking in the heat of a forest fire in Oregon, there's little that journalist Ken Bilderback won't do to get a story worth telling.
Bilderback is a retired newspaper reporter and editor and former NFPA-certified volunteer Public Information Officer for the Gaston Rural Fire District in Oregon. His hobbies include listening to nonagenarians talk about Prohibition, creating videos of cats interacting with gophers, and saying "Aw, shucks!" while winning literary awards.
Honors for "Creek With No Name":
First Runner Up, History Prize, 2012 New York Book Festival Winner, Regional Literature, 2012 New England Book Festival Winner, Regional Literature, 2012 Southern California Book Festival First Runner Up, Regional Literature, 2012-2013 Los Angeles Book Festival Honorable Mention, Non-fiction, 2013 Great Northwest Book Festival Honorable Mention, History, 2012 San Francisco Book Festival Honorable Mention, General Non-fiction, 2012 Hollywood Book Festival Honorable Mention, General Non-fiction, 2012 London Book Festival
Honors for "Wheels on the Bus":
Honorable Mention, Autobiography, 2011 New York Book Festival Honorable Mention, Autobiography, 2012 Southern California Book Festival
Having already read Wheels on the bus I knew to expect something good with this project and I wasn't let down. The book is essentially a series of essays all centered around the Gaston town and local area. This means you can read a few pages really quick and come back, but I found myself fully immersed in it for hours and readers likely will do the same.
Whether you're a resident of Gaston, have driven through it or never even heard of it you'll find something of interest here. What Ken does well is smooth flowing writing, you glide through the pages captivated by the stories of this wild area. This is not a long drawn out history book, it's a wild tale that would have made a great fiction novel had it not been true! There are plenty of facts uncovered but they're unraveled like a tale being told by a campfire.
History buffs and Oregonians will especially enjoy reading some of this crazy, sparsely documented history of this little mill town. My family goes back for generations and i didn't know about a lot of these things. It's the first time to my knowledge someone has put together something like this in such a cohesive way.
Enough reading my review, get this book! Even if you've never been within 3000 miles of Gaston, it doesn't matter, everyone loves an interesting tale. I just can't imagine anyone regretting this purchase.
I've lived in Gaston Oregon all my life I grew up there I went to school there from kindergarten to 10th grade my family goes way back from Generations from Gaston I still have family members that lives in Gaston Oregon diaper love stories about Gaston specially that Hagg Lake that used to be a cemetery and they never take out the the the dead